Persian lamb couscous

    1 hour 35 min

    Chunks of lean lamb are gently simmered with dates in a richly spiced gravy, then piled atop couscous and pistachio nuts, and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. Serve this exotic dish for a special family meal or a make-ahead dish for entertaining, accompanied by some Arabic flat bread and a simple leafy green salad.

    82 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 340 g (12 oz) boneless lean leg of lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into cubes
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
    • 2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
    • 1 fresh red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced
    • 2 pinches of saffron threads
    • 2 tsp ground coriander
    • 2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 100 g (3½ oz) stoned dates, sliced
    • 600 ml (1 pint) lamb stock, preferably home-made
    • salt and pepper
    • seeds of 1 small pomegranate to garnish
    • Pistachio couscous
    • 300 ml (10 fl oz) lamb stock, preferably home-made
    • 400 g (14 oz) couscous
    • 15 g (1/2 oz) fresh coriander, chopped
    • 25 g (scant 1 oz) pistachio nuts, roughly chopped

    Prep:20min  ›  Cook:1hr15min  ›  Ready in:1hr35min 

    1. Heat a large non-stick saucepan and fry the cubes of lamb, in batches, until browned all over. Lift from the pan with a draining spoon and set aside.
    2. Add the oil to the pan, then add the garlic, ginger, onions and chilli. Fry, stirring frequently, over a low heat for 10 minutes.
    3. Return the lamb to the pan, together with the saffron, ground coriander, cumin, cinnamon and paprika. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring well, then add the dates and stock. Season to taste. Cover and simmer gently for 1 hour or until the lamb is tender.
    4. About 15 minutes before the lamb is ready, prepare the couscous. Heat the stock until boiling, then add the couscous and return to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover tightly and set aside to soak for 10 minutes.
    5. Fork the couscous through lightly to fluff up the grains, then toss in the coriander and pistachios and pile onto a warmed large serving platter. Spoon the lamb on top of the couscous, sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.

    Some more ideas

    If you want to get ahead, you can cook this dish up to the end of step 3 the day before, then let it cool and keep it in a covered bowl in the fridge. When you are ready to serve, reheat the lamb while the couscous is soaking in step 4, making sure it is piping hot and bubbling. * For a more peppery flavour, instead of coriander toss chopped rocket or watercress with the couscous.

    Plus points

    Pomegranate seeds make a very pretty garnish for sweet or savoury dishes, and they are deliciously sweet and tart all at once. In addition they contribute vitamin C and fibre, so all the more reason for using them often.

    Each serving provides

    B1, B6, B12, E, niacin, iron * B2, C, zinc * A, folate

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    Reviews in English (6)


    This recipe was delicious. I made this in Slow cooker and purchased leg of lamb and cut off the meat I needed. Added extra chillis and also a pinch of ground cardamon. Cooked on low for 7 hrs and presented it as per recipe on serving dish with the pomegranite seeds sprinkled over. Also did some steamed pumpkin, green beans and sugar snap peas. Will definitely be making this again. We had gone to a restaurant and had this meal and I googled it and found this recipe. Husband said it was better then the restaurant one!  -  13 Apr 2010


    Absolutely delicious. I only used half the chilli and ommitted the paprika so the whole family could enjoy (including children aged 2 and 4). They loved it! The sauce has a real warmth and depth of flavour - so easy to make.  -  03 Jan 2012


    This was resplendent! I forgot to buy dates cos my memory is dreadful so I had to use some raisins instead... which were OK actually, and the spices mixed with the lamb flavours were a dream. Definitely give this a go if you're looking for something different than the norm. Can be a little spicy with both paprika and chillis though, so I would advise going easy on the paprika if you're not a fan of spicy food!  -  07 Sep 2015